ALDERSHOT Town's Alex Rodman has revealed that he could have died from the sudden illness which has cruelly ended his season.
The 24-year-old winger told how he underwent hospital checks for chest pains, only to then be diagnosed with a Pulmonary embolism after tests showed he had three blood clots in his lungs.
Now on the blood thinning drug Wharfarin, Rodman is ruled out of contact sport until the summer.
But speaking for the first time about his sobering experience, the former Tamworth front man revealed his condition had baffled doctors, given his healthy lifestyle.
“I had a virus about three weeks ago so I was off for a game and I had a fitness test in the morning before we played Oxford United,” he explained.
“I came in and told the fitness coach I was having pains in my chest.
“Whenever I ran or controlled the ball on my chest it felt like someone was punching me or stabbing me.
"I passed the fitness test but I told the gaffer I was really struggling so we made the decision for me not to play.
“I watched the game, got progressively worse throughout the day sat out in the cold, and went home to bed.
“At about 9pm I was curled up on my bed in a ball. You know when you are in so much pain that you think, ‘I just want this to end’.
"It was horrendous. I rang the doctor to tell him my heart was beating really fast, I was having palpitations.
"He gave me some really strong painkillers which made me really tired.
“I woke up Sunday morning feeling a ton better so I thought maybe it was just a virus and I would be over it by Monday or Tuesday."
But Rodman went on: “Monday came and I felt a bit worse and on Tuesday worse still. My girlfriend Lizzie was cooking me some lunch and I coughed up some blood. It was the size of a 10p piece and looked quite dark.
“I rang the doc and he told me to go straight to A&E. I had all the scans and everything was absolutely fine. I said to them, ‘Listen my doc has told me I’ve got to get a D-dimer done’, which scans for blood clots.
“They said the blood tests were all OK so we could rule that out. They told me I had pericarditis so I would have to be off for 10 days then I’d be good to go.”
But despite being given the all-clear, Dr Imran Khan – Aldershot’s club doctor – booked Rodman in to see leading cardiac specialist Professor Sanjay Sharma at St George’s Hospital in south London.
I asked what the worst case scenario was. She said, ‘Well, you could die’. My dad said, ‘You’re not going anywhere’.
- Alex Rodman
Rodman said: “The prof did the medicals of players like Peter Crouch and [Rafael] Van der Vaart so he knows his stuff.
"I had a D-dimer test just to rule a Pulmonary embolism out because I’d coughed up blood.
“I was sitting in his office, laughing and joking with Imran, while he went to get the results.
"I told him to bring me back some good news. He replied, ‘I’ll eat my stethoscope if you’ve got anything wrong with you. You are fit, healthy, you don’t drink or smoke – it is too rare’.
“When he came back he said, ‘I can’t believe it, you’ve got three small blood clots in your lung’.
"He said it was the first time he’s ever been wrong in his career.”
After having an injection in his stomach, Rodman was then taken up to Solihull A&E, where he suddenly discovered the severity of his condition.
“I asked if I could go home because I felt fine, and come back in the morning,” he said.
“Because there were people coming in for emergencies everyone was being seen before me so I was sat there with my dad until about 4am.
“I was pressuring her because I just wanted to go home to get some sleep. So I asked what the worst case scenario was.
“She said, ‘Well, you could die’. My dad said, ‘You’re not going anywhere’.
"When you feel absolutely fine in yourself and someone tells you that possibility, you expect to be in bed and not able to move - it is hard to get your head round.
“She was saying to me, ‘You’re lucky it’s been caught’. Often the first time a Pulmonary embolism is detected is when someone dies and the doctor is doing the autopsy.”
Rodman began his road to recovery by getting down to strenuous fitness work this week and aims to come back stronger than ever before.
“Sometimes in football it is easy to get swept along and you can forget you are doing a job you love and getting paid good money to do it,” he concluded.
“This has been a sobering experience and has really made me realise how lucky we are as professional footballers.
“It has really made me what to work even harder, to push on and be better than I’ve ever been because you never know how short or long your career could be.”